A marketing project manager is responsible for making sure that everyone involved in a project is connected. But aligning a whole team of different individuals can be tough. Often, marketing project managers need to work together with people from different departments, who have disparate mindsets. Hence, it’s quite important for marketing project managers to be highly skilled. But what main abilities do they need to master, in order to become successful?
I wasn’t sure before I started writing this article. So I did what most people would do: I asked the question in my favorite social network, Facebook. Specifically, I used an FB group called the Project Management Café…
… and got more than 25 answers. Quite cool, but also plenty of different opinions.
So I dived deeper into these answers, and tried to categorize them. Finally, I came up with 7 skills that every marketing project manager needs to master, in order to successfully manage marketing projects.
Ready to dive in?
Here is the list I compiled of the most important skills:
1. Project Time Management
Project time management describes the ability to schedule, align, and manage the time of different tasks of a project, while being responsive to the dynamics of a project (such as the delayed fulfillment of tasks). Project time management requires a good knowledge of all project tasks, their estimated time of delivery, and their dependencies.
The dependencies of project tasks can be tricky. Some tasks just can’t be done without finishing other tasks first. For instance, a Facebook ad requires briefing the designer, and a new blog post requires briefing the writer.
The marketing project manager needs to make sure that:
- There are no avoidable time gaps between activities.
- Each task only takes as much time as estimated.
Of course, the reality often looks different. Tasks take longer than expected, and multiple projects can lead to delays. Proper time management goes hand in hand with establishing clear internal communication. If something doesn’t go according to plan, the marketing project manager needs to know how to quickly change the whole plan.
27 Time Management Tips by Toggl
Time Management Course by Lynda.com
The Time Management Academy (Facebook group)
Goal management involves setting clearly defined goals, assigning them to your employees, and constantly working towards them. To motivate and challenge your co-workers, the set goals should be demanding but achievable.
The marketing project manager needs to be able to define and track the goals of his respective project. These goals should be SMART.
Okay, this pun was lame, but I couldn’t resist. Actually, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. These attributes are crucial to making sure the overall direction of the project is clear.
You can use dedicated goal management software (such as Perdoo or Weekdone) to manage your goals. If you want to keep it simple, spend time writing your goals down and regularly tracking them. At Filestage, we’re using the OKRs approach (that is also used by Google and other tech giants). OKRs stands for “Objectives and Key Results” and separates itself from other goal-setting methods. OKRs should be very ambitious and motivate your team to reach their limits. We’re using a plain Google Sheets to document the OKRs and we’re updating our goal sheets every week.
S.M.A.R.T. Objectives by Wayne State University
Articles and Ebooks on OKRs by OKR Alliance
SMART Goals – Quick Overview by DecisionSkills
3. Personal Organization
Personal organization describes the capability of properly managing and coordinating your life, as well as all related activities. So apart from managing the whole project, marketing project managers need to be able to effectively manage themselves.
Good ways to organize yourself include minimizing distractions, frequently working in focus mode, and having a clear personal schedule. See this skill set as a foundation for the whole project. The organization of the project will only be successful if the marketing project manager is organized.
Getting distracted can be time-consuming and expensive. If you’re interrupted by an incoming email, a new LinkedIn message, or a funny GIF on Facebook, it could take you about 25 minutes to get back to work. Sound about right? So if you temporarily disable the notifications for email, Slack and social media on your computer and your mobile device, it will help you concentrate on your prioritized tasks.
10 Unconventional Habits to Live Distraction-Less by Becoming Minimalist
Work Mode – Block ALL Social Media (Google Chrome Extension)
4. Task Delegation
Delegating tasks involves defining the respective activities, assigning them to your coworkers, and setting a clear deadline and an expected outcome.
Marketing project managers need to delegate a LOT of tasks. To make sure that the outcome will be as expected, the tasks need to be properly defined, and the desired goals need to be clear.
It’s important to choose the right person to work on the task, since this decision will also highly affect the task results. Do the capabilities of the chosen person match the task requirements? If not, the marketing project manager should quickly find an alternative.
Make sure that task delegation happens in a transparent way. Directly assign tasks in a project management tool (such as Asana, Teamleader or Basecamp) to the responsible persons, and set proper task definitions and clear due dates.
8 Steps to Maximize Delegation Effectiveness by AdvanceWeb
5. Communication Competence
Communication competence describes the ability to efficiently and clearly exchange information on various topics while making sure that the sender and receiver of the messages have the same understanding of the information.
Marketing projects require a lot of coordination and communication. If external parties (such as agencies) are involved, this effort increases even more. Hence, every team needs to have an efficient communication workflow. A marketing project manager is responsible for aligning these communication streams. So he or she should have a solid competence in communication. He’s an intermediary who brings information from all sides and presents it to everyone else.
When mastering this challenge, being a communication pro is very important. The marketing project manager needs to be able to express himself properly, and also be empathetic about their coworkers’ situations.
Use a communication tool like Slack or Stride to manage your internal communication and make it searchable. This way, it will become super easy to search previously sent messages and quickly get information.
4 Simple Steps For Effective Team Communication by Alex Charfen
Most important are people skills. All the gantts charts and meetings in the world are not going to help you if the people are not willing to cooperate. This is especially true when your project means additional work on top of daily business.
Matthijs Muller, Global Business Development Project Manager at HelloFresh
6. Instant Feedback
Instant feedback involves the ability to quickly and constructively evaluate activities after you’ve completed them. When starting on a task, anyone who receives instant feedback should know about the expectations.
When working on marketing projects, tasks will be completed and passed back to the marketing project manager. In this situation, he or she needs to be able to provide valuable feedback that’s related to marketing tasks. Feedback should be precise, honest, and constructive. It’s important that it happens just after finishing the task. Otherwise, it will become harder to get more value out of it.
Use feedback to appreciate the work of your coworkers, and help them learn and develop. Of course, you may feel dissatisfied with the outcome of a task, so you should definitely be honest about your feelings. But don’t use it as a chance to let off steam. Stay constructive, and recall the ambition of your employees.
Keep also in mind that not every task needs your feedback. Make sure that your co-workers know when it’s valuable for them to get your feedback. Let them have the ownership over feedback loops. They know best. Encourage them to give you deadlines on when they need your feedback at the latest. Let them know that it’s okay to set short deadlines like today or tomorrow
10 Examples of Giving Effective Employee Feedback by OfficeVibe
I couldn’t find the author of this quote, but I strongly assume that he or she is a project manager. As a marketing project manager, you know that details matter. They’re really the essence of each project, and the underlying puzzle pieces that need to be connected.
Keep track of everything, and make sure that every aspect of the project is clearly defined, well-executed. and properly finished. Define your goals and the strategy. In order to implement the strategy and achieve the goal, derive the needed tasks. From then on, there’s no such thing as an unimportant task. Keep in mind that each puzzle piece matters, but don’t lose track of the project overview. You can use a tool like Asana to make sure that you don’t forget anything.
You Can Be More Detail-Oriented With Training by Chris Denny
10 Things Only Detail-Oriented People Do by Lifehack
8. Group Problem-Solving
Group problem-solving is the process of dealing with challenges as a group, and finding ways to overcome these hurdles. The benefit of solving problems as a group is that different people are viewing the problems from different angles, so they can contribute different ways of solving it. The challenge of group problem-solving is that differing opinions can lead to conflicts about which route is optimal.
Often, multiple people work on a marketing project. For example, a team can include a designer who creates the ad visuals, a copywriter who writes the texts, a PPC expert who manages the Facebook campaign, and a marketing project manager who passes information and deliverables between them.
But let’s be realistic. Sooner or later, every marketing project will result in problems. They might be bigger or smaller, but ultimately, you can’t completely avoid them. Marketing project managers should view these problems as challenges. And they should be good at overcoming such challenges in a group.
Solving problems as a group may have advantages and disadvantages. Try to make the best out of the situation, and use the knowledge of your different group members. Instead of insisting on your opinion, attempt to see things from their perspectives. Then you’ll frequently see how much easier it can be to solve problems.
Your Team Is Brainstorming All Wrong by Harvard Business Review
Eight Ways to Improve Your Empathy by Andrew Sobel
Working Backward to Solve Problems by Maurice Ashley
Now you’ve learned more about the 8 skills that every marketing project manager needs. In addition, I listed various resources about how to learn these skills. Of course, reading about them will help you get a better understanding. But ultimately, you’ll need to get your hands dirty, and apply the learnings to real projects.
Hence, if you’re a marketing project manager, I have some homework for you:
- Choose one of the 8 skills above.
- Learn more about that skill by reading the given resources, and by doing research on your own.
- Write down one habit you want to create. For example, improve your organization by starting your day with writing down the 6 most important tasks you want to achieve.
- Stick to this habit for (at least) the next 30 days.
I’m curious. How did you like the article? Have I missed an important skill? Don’t hesitate to post your thoughts in the comments. I’m happy to hear your opinions about the topic!
Max is a SaaS enthusiast and loves actionable content that provides direct value.